2021 Pattern Release Plans

I was struck with inspiration to write this post a few days ago while I was folding the laundry. I always find it interesting that the ideas and thoughts I most wish to share with you all come to me at times when I have no place to jot them down. It's actually been two days since the words started flowing in my brain to now, and in that time, I have written out full passages of this post while folding laundry, showering, and gardening. 

Of course, even in those instances where I am able to map out everything I wish to say flowing through my head, I realized that in my mind things come out so much more eloquently and succinctly than they ever would on paper. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that my brain is taking shortcuts and connecting ideas to one another on a subconscious level. This is why I am so slow to post about what I have spent months thinking on -- I just don't know how two or three ideas might relate on a conscious level, so when I get to my keyboard to write, nothing comes out. 

Moving along...

I am coming to you today with news that I have shared with my newsletter subscribers recently, but wish to go into depth a bit more. That news is: I don't plan on creating or releasing any new patterns in 2021. 

A lot of things factored in to my decision not to release any new patterns this year including:

  • A backlog of older pattern updates and tweaks that I need to work through, but couldn't last year due to our wedding
  • The upcoming gardening season which is a very full season on its own
  • A need to put better, more sustainable systems into place in regards to developing patterns so that I don't become frantic or suffer burnout
  • Another backlog of hacks, alterations, etc. for the patterns I am currently offering
  • A fundamental shift in the way I want to go about creating patterns that is more in line with my own personal ethos regarding sustainability

This definitely wasn't an easy decision to come to, and it is a bit scary from a business perspective. But I 1000% believe it is the right decision. Trying to sustain the pace at which I put out patterns in 2020 would not be good for me or for anyone who uses my patterns. I just wouldn't be able to come up with my best work while also trying to juggle the other important elements in my life. 

Which brings me to that last little bullet point. 

There have been ideas and thoughts and feelings swirling around me for quite some time. A lot of it has to do with the life I want to lead on a personal level, but that ultimately ties back into my business because, well, my business is essentially me. How I operate Untitled Thoughts is a direct reflection of who I am as a person and the energy I wish to put out into the world. And for a long time, the main energy I want to radiate is that of a slow and intentional life that revolves around sustainability and our individual impact on the planet. 

But it is quite easy to get caught up in the current system, isn't it? Hopping onto social media and seeing all the new patterns by other designers, all the ideas being generated, and all the cool new garments that people are making can easily send anyone (myself especially!) into a tail spin of thinking they need to do more, be more, create more. 

But is that what I stand for at my core? Is that the concept that I want to build Untitled Thoughts around? Do I want to promote people buying more, more, more? The answer is a resounding No

I know that sounds super counterintuitive from a business perspective, especially as the current system is set up. But I don't really want to operate as part of this current system where I make more and more and more in hopes that you will buy more and more and more. That's at direct odds with what I stand for, and a big reason why I have always been terrible at selling in a retail environment.

Side note: I literally had a retail job in college where I made money based on sales, and I was consistently the lowest seller. If I saw someone was hesitant on purchasing an item, I would tell them that they should go home and sleep on it. If they really wanted the item, they would still be thinking about it in a week. No one ever came back, because none of the items were that important. 

However, I still have the urge to create. I get ideas all the time that I want to play around with. It's in my nature and in my core. But I think there is a way I can still create and share things of value with you that isn't operating as a part of the current system. 

All of this was a verryyy long winded way of coming round to this final point (thank you to anyone who has stuck around this long!). I won't be putting out any patterns this year, and any future patterns I do plan on making will have to go through the following set of questions before I will consider moving forward on creating a pattern:

  • Does something like this garment idea already exist?
  • If something similar to this does exist, is there a way in which my design might improve upon that idea making it more inclusive, easier to understand, more universal, etc?
  • Is this design timeless?
  • Is this design season-less, or able to transition between more than one season?
  • Can this design be made 100% zero waste ?
  • If it cannot be 100% zero waste, is there a way this design can be cut out so that the waste generate can easily be used in another project (other than destined to stuff a pouf or make a scrunchie- I can't be the only one with a million of each, right?)
  • Can this design be made to be inclusive given the above parameters? 

There are probably other questions I will ask of myself as I begin delving in to this process, but these are the main ones that have been rattling around in my mind. And you may be thinking "Gosh, this list is super limiting. How will you ever create anything that falls within all those parameters? Is that even possible?"

To which I would answer: Yes, I think it is possible. And I don't mind the limitations. I think they are necessary given the current amount of excess in the world. I just don't want to create something and put it out into the world if it 1) already exists and 2) isn't necessary. 

The only things I wish to share with the world are items that will become life long treasures if you made them. Things that you wouldn't toss into your next closet clean out. Garments that can easily transition between work life and home life and garden life and mom life. Items that you would want to mend over and over and over again because you love them so much. 

That's the sort of thing I want to make. Items with long lasting value. Patterns that use up every bit of fabric so you aren't left with scraps that you feel overwhelmed by. Pieces that you truly love and feel incredible wearing. 

So, those are my plans moving forward. It has taken me a long time to encapsulate all of these ideas into something that made sense to me. Heck, it even took a long blog post to fully solidify this idea! If you stuck around to the end, thank you! I'd love to hear your thoughts on these plans, so feel free to leave your ideas and questions and even concerns in the comments below. 

À bientôt !

6 comments

Brittani Bumb

Hi Ellie!
I totally agree- it can be such a challenge to work in an environment when the business model literally runs against your own ethos. Thank you for your support regarding my shift in direction. I a SO excited for what might unfold !

Ellie

I really appreciate this shift. I too had a retail job during college and it just didn’t agree with my minimalist ethos. Please let us know how we can continue to support you as you move away from the status quo “more is better” business idea which I’m really excited for

Brittani Bumb

Hi Giulia!

I 100% understand where you are coming from in your concerns. It’s something that I have been contemplating on for quite some time, and why I believe my next pattern won’t be out for a while. Your concerns are valid. I don’t want my patterns to feel daunting or exclusive in any way. And for a long time, I felt nervous that checking off all those boxes would be an impossible task!

However, I recently spent time watching a discussion by the Zero Waste Design Online Collective where many of the speakers addressed the exact concerns you brought up here, and they offered some incredible solutions! It made me feel hopeful and empowered that I could possibly create designs that created little to no waste while still being inclusive and maintaining the style that I love. It’s not going to be easy work, and I might not even reach 100% zero waste perfection, but I think it will be rewarding and my goal is create designs that will at least significantly reduce the waste created. Kind of like the Fleur Pinafore. It isn’t a fully zero waste design, but I am proud that it can be pretty close! And both grading and seam allowance changes are totally possible and easy to execute! :)

Brittani Bumb

Thank you so much Trisha! Your support means the world to me- it truly does! I am super excited about this new direction and I know it will take some time to achieve, but in the end, I think it is the best next step forward :) I am giddy just thinking about all the possibilities!

Giulia

As much as I love zero waste as a concept and the creativity it inspires, I’m not thrilled by pattern companies embracing it. It’s inherently not inclusive: no pattern alteration is possible without destroying the puzzle of which the pattern is made and hence the zero waste. Hence it cannot be inclusive of all people whose bodies are not in the main chart or whose lines bend from the classic ones. Or whose sewers like to have a different seam allowance.
Zero waste, while putting the important issue of waste to the center, forgets what was supposed to be there, even more relevant, that is the human body with all it’s perks and differences. Many patterns of the kind will not be flattering on a not thin enough conventional enough body unless you change them and lose the zero waste. Yet modifying zero waste patterns is oft daunting as they are far away from straightforward, as they have to achieve a garment without losing any bit of fabric.

I love the ground idea, love the wonderful place where it comes from, so I hope this does not come out as harsh :)

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